Review: East Sussex Music Service Summer School Concert, Eastbourne Winter Garden by Marrion Wells

BY THE end of their school careers, today’s students have such maturity that when seated in their orchestral places it is difficult to appreciate they are not experienced professionals.

That goes, too, for their playing, thanks to the dedication of the tutors of the various sections, brass, wind and strings, added and abetted very prominently by the percussion.

The Brass Band directed by ebullient Glaswegian Nigel Boddice MBE opened with a rousing Fanfare, and an Irish melody picturing Carrickfergus, a holiday area on the Antrim coast north of Belfast, with cornet solo by Kerry Pert.

Harvey Hall soloed on cornet in Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die, and the traditional song Flow Gently Sweet Afton was recalled in Alloway Tales with narration by Ben Phelps.

The Wind Sinfonia, directed by Stuart Longley began with Berlioz’s familiar Roman Carnival Overture, featuring solo clarinet, following with a Hungarian dance a Czardas, with Max Hale on solo alto sax.

A switch to the classics came with Ravel’s Prelude at the Tomb of Couperin and arias from Bach’s St Matthew Passion with alto sax solo from Sam Jack and Obligato Trio of Sarah Margolis, flute, Alistair Gregg, clarinet and Max Hale, soprano sax.

Max followed this with Under the Veil again on soprano, a less familiar member of the sax family which does not have a bell so resembles a clarinet or oboe.

The String Sinfonia opened with excerpts from Concerto in D by John Stanley an English eighteenth century composer blind from age two but who wrote prolifically, following the better-known William Boyce as Master of the King’s Music.

This was directed by Ralph Swanwick with Graham Coldwell providing harpsichord accompaniment on keyboard.

Graham then conducted Peter Warlock’s Capriol Suite, this section closing on the familiar Bacchanale from Saint Säens’ Samson & Delilah.

The Brass Band returned with Nigel Bodice for a set including Leonard Bernstein’s theme for the Magnificent Seven, memories of Mantovani and Ronald Binge’s Singing Strings with Charmaine, and Bunch of Bones featuring five trombonists in true Glenn Miller mode.

The evening ended on a high note encoring with the popular Hana Neglia.

The programme was compered by the director of the Music Service for Hastings and Rother John Boyd, with Director Tony Biggin, deputy director Richard Sigsworth and members of the tutorial staff ‘sitting in’ (in musician-speak) with their students.

Family members and distinguished guests including the Mayor of Eastbourne joined in when invited and were obviously greatly impressed by the talents of the young performers.